Older Dads Have Smarter Sons, Science Says—and You’ll Never Guess Why

Updated: Jun. 29, 2017

Bye, biological clock! If you consider yourself geeky, you might have your old man to thank.

VGstockstudio/ShutterstockGood news for dads everywhere! If you’re holding off on—ahem—baby making, you may be doing a favor for your future kids. Sons of older dads actually have an intellectual boost over their peers. Science says so!

A study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry found that boys born to older fathers were more “geeky”—or socially awkward and overly intellectual—than those born to younger fathers.

The researchers assessed 7,781 12-year-old twins on their nonverbal intelligence, restrictive and receptive behaviors, and social aloofness. Then, their scores were combined to form a “geek index.” Those who ranked the highest on the index had higher IQs, stronger focus levels, and less concern about fitting in with others.

Here’s where things start to get interesting: The boys’ geekiness score increased if their fathers were older than 35 at the child’s conception. Males with fathers above 50 years old at conception were also 32 percent more likely to score higher on exams in STEM subjects than the sons of fathers who were under 25, according to the study.

So, why the correlation? According to the study’s authors, the geekiness trait is partly inherited from the parents and partly due to mutations that occur in the sperm of older fathers.

Previous studies have found that advanced paternal age increases the risk of psychiatric diseases, such as autism and schizophrenia, for their children. But this study suggests that there might be a positive spin to delayed fatherhood, too.

“I think it’s quite important that we can relieve the stigma for older fathers,” Magdalena Janecka, a co-author of the study and a fellow at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai, said. “It’s important to add something positive to that and to make older fathers not feel guilty about how their kids do in life.”

There you have it, straight from the experts: You can officially ditch your biological clock. And the advice doesn’t exclusively apply to older dads, either; science shows that older moms are better parents, too!